You probably see and hear a lot about alcohol—from TV, movies, music, and your friends. But what are the real facts about underage alcohol use?
Here are some common myths—and sobering facts—about alcohol use:
Myth: Alcohol isn’t as harmful as other drugs
Fact: Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such as cancer. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.
Myth: Drinking is a good way to loosen up at parties
Fact: Drinking is a dumb way to loosen up. It can make you act silly, say things you shouldn’t say, and do things you wouldn’t normally do (like get into fights or have sex).
Myth: Drinking alcohol will make me cool.
Fact: There’s nothing cool about stumbling around, passing out, or puking on yourself. Drinking alcohol also can cause bad breath and weight gain.
Myth: All of the other kids drink alcohol. I need to drink to fit in.
Fact: If you really want to fit in, stay sober. Most young people don’t drink alcohol. Research shows that more than 70 percent of youth aged 12 to 20 haven’t had a drink in the past month.
Myth: I can sober up quickly by taking a cold shower or drinking coffee.
Fact: On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave the body. Nothing can speed up the process, including drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off.”
Myth: Adults drink, so kids should be able to drink too.
Fact: A young person’s brain and body are still growing. Drinking alcohol can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. People who begin drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to abuse or become dependent on alcohol than those who begin drinking after age 21
Myth: Beer and Wine are safer than liquor.
Fact: Alcohol is alcohol … it can cause you problems no matter how you consume it. One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about a half-cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Alcopops—sweet drinks laced with malt liquor—often contain more alcohol than beer!
Myth: I can drink alcohol and not have any problems.
Fact: If you’re under 21, drinking alcohol is a big problem: It’s illegal. If caught, you may have to pay a fine, perform community service, or take alcohol awareness classes. Kids who drink also are more likely to get poor grades in school, and are at higher risk for being a crime victim.
Do you think you or a friend has an alcohol problem?
Don’t wait—get help. Talk to a parent, doctor, teacher, or anyone you trust.
For information and referrals, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 800–662–HELP (4357) (in English and en español).
An online substance abuse treatment locator is available here
A local substance abuse treatment locator is available here
Also, check out the federal portal of underage drinking prevention resources at:
Stop Alcohol Abuse
Too Smart to Start
From: Too Smart To Start